Long before Raymond Floyd sent his first predawn iron shot
soaring down Broadway, San Francisco was well established among
golfers as a highball kind of place. Back then, every player
knew that the proper way to pack for Baghdad by the Bay was to
bring plenty of aspirin along with the A game. While the mores
of golfers, especially the kind in town for next week's U.S.
Open, seem to have evolved more or less--more conservative, less
nocturnal--in recent years, San Francisco hasn't changed. It's
still the best prowl-around town in North America.
This is an article from the June 15, 1998 issue
Most of the golfers will stay at the Stanford Court Hotel, on
the California cable-car line, or at the St. Francis, which
overlooks Union Square. Either way, they are only a 30-minute
cab ride, tops, from Olympic and just a few blocks from clubs,
restaurants and the kind of joints that have made the city famous.
Ask Floyd if it's hard to have a good time in San Francisco.
Back in the late '60s and early '70s, when he was single, Floyd
was a regular along the Broadway strip. He was part owner of a
bar, Coke's, an investor in a topless girls band and one of
Carol Doda's many admirers.
Doda, who is memorialized in Tom Wolfe's book The Pump House
Gang because she was one of the first topless dancers to enlarge
her breasts with silicone, remembers the scene well. "I just
knew him as Raymond Floyd," she says. "What did I know about
golf? I never went out with him, if that's the next question. He
was a bachelor having a great time."
Doda runs a lingerie boutique on Union Street these days and
sings in her band, Carol Doda and her Lucky Stiffs. From 1968 to
'87, though, when she had a show at the Condor Club (it's a
sports bar now), she was the top act on Broadway. To start the
show, a piano, with Doda aboard dancing topless, would be slowly
lowered from the ceiling. "I did eight or nine shows a night,"
Doda says. "I felt like an elevator operator, I was going up and
down so much. Raymond and the guys [she recalls Miller Barber
and Bob Rosburg, among others] would come in, watch the show and
then hang out and talk to me at the bar. That could go on for
After hours, there was golf. Doda says that her former manager
Voss Boreta and the Tour pros would step out of the Condor Club
and onto the toughest dogleg in San Francisco. "They'd get up in
the middle of Broadway at three or four in the morning and hit
balls to Columbus Avenue," she says.
Those were the days. Of course, no modern pro would go off on
such a silly toot, even in San Francisco, right? Check out the
photos on the wall at Johnny Love's, one of the hottest singles
spots in the city. Along with shots of Michael Irvin, Mark
McGwire and Jerry Rice hangs a snap of 10-time Tour winner David
Frost. In town for the '93 Tour Championship at Olympic, Frost
spent so much time at Love's that the club's owner, Johnny
Metheny, put him to work behind the bar. "He was whipping up
drinks," Metheny says. "He was here three nights in a row and
didn't leave until two in the morning. I was impressed." The
late hours didn't seem to faze Frost. He finished the tournament
in a tie for second, one shot behind Jim Gallagher Jr.
No one can explain such recuperative feats, but Ed Moose, who
has owned a restaurant in the North Beach part of town for 25
years, has a theory. "I don't know if it's the fog or the ocean
air, but you don't seem to get as loaded," he says. Moose ran
the trendy Washington Square Bar and Grill--a.k.a. the
Washbag--before opening Moose's. During the 1984 Democratic
Convention the Washbag was jammed with media celebrities ranging
from David Brinkley and Tom Brokaw to Jimmy Breslin and Studs
Terkel. "We even had George Will, who was such a pain in the
ass," says Moose.
Because of the two Tour Championships and the '87 Open, many
golfers still remember their way around town. Some of them
haven't been forgotten either. During one Tour Championship,
players were given vouchers worth $100 at downtown restaurants.
Davis Love III stopped at one, and when his tab didn't come to
$100, he asked if he could get change. He couldn't.
Bob Mulhern, a manager of Moose's, remembers that on July 26
last year one of the waiters asked him if he recognized the
celebrity in the dining room. "Sure," Mulhern said. "[Former
secretary of state] George Schultz. He's in here all the time."
"No," the waiter said. "I mean the little guy over there in the
"It was Justin Leonard, the week after he won the British Open,"
Mulhern says, "and nobody knew him. Evidently he was dating a
Dallas girl who works in town. The last thing he said when he
went out the door was, 'I'll see you next June.'"
Hope that he has called ahead. Moose's, like the rest of the
city, is going to be packed. Postrio, where Johnny Miller, Greg
Norman and Tom Watson often dine when in town, is booked months
in advance. Of course, if actor Denzel Washington calls--he's a
big fan of Postrio's house burgundy--a table will be found.
Noted restaurateur Harry Denton suggests Izzy's or the House of
Prime Rib for meat, Tadich Grill and Farallon for fish, the Fog
City Diner for comfort food, the Starlight Room atop the Sir
Francis Drake Hotel for a view, and--but of course--Harry
Denton's for a great meal and a good time.
Be warned, though: If you are a famous face, getting a table is
not automatic. Pat Kelley, the formidable manager of the popular
PlumpJack Cafe, wants to set the record straight: Despite what
you may have heard, she did not turn away actor Gene Hackman
twice when he showed up without a reservation. She did it once.
The second time he knew better and just stuck his head in to say
hello. "I've had them say, 'I'm not accustomed to being told
when I can come in,'" Kelley says. "Well, Mr. Big Shot, this
isn't Spago. We've only got 17 tables."
On the other hand, if your favorite restaurant is full, there's
probably a pretty good place right around the corner. "You can
walk everywhere in San Francisco," says Ken Venturi, the '64
Open champ who was born and raised in the city. "That's what
I've always liked about it. It's not far to anything." Venturi
is such an icon locally that he has his own room at Scoma's, the
landmark restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf. The room is bedecked
with photos of San Francisco's favorite golfer with, among
others, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr. and a very skinny Frank
Sinatra wearing a golf cap.
Tiger Woods left his mark on the area too, but you'll have to
search for it among the hundreds of other initials carved into
the wooden tables at the Dutch Goose, the burger joint of choice
at Stanford. If you're not sure what to order at the Goose, go
with what Tiger and his teammate Joel Kribel used to have. "The
double cheese," says Kribel. "It's big and greasy and pretty
Ah, the memories. Don't expect Floyd to spin any tales of the
city, though. He's a respectable Senior tour player and father
of three trying to leave his San Francisco nights behind. But
there's always Doda, who's happy to chat. Stop in her shop if
you get the chance. She isn't just selling ladies' lingerie, you
know. "I've got some great lingerie for men, too," she says.
"Perfect for golfers."
Somewhere, Raymundo just felt a chill.
"I was impressed," says Metheny.